Friday, September 6, 2013

Graven Images-Eleanor Sullivan

Graven Images

Eleanor Sullivan

Yesteryear Press/Wyatt-MacKenzie, Sep 1 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781939288110

In 1833 the Separatists distrust outsiders staying at the hotel in their Zoar, Ohio village. Impoverished traveling artist Sebastian proves what the rigid leaders believe when they learn he has painted portraits of their girls. When the sinner is hung in a barn, the community rejects one of their members could be a killer; so they look outside and decide Irish tinker Egan killed Sebastian.

Midwife Adelaide Bechtmann does not accept the rationale that none of their pious people would violate God’s Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Instead she remains open-minded, but knows she must tread lightly on her inquiry into the death of the artist; as she recently angered her husband Benjamin and the leaders when she investigated the drowning of a teenager (see Cover Her Body).

The second Singular Village historical mystery is a superb nineteenth century amateur sleuth that brings to life the rigid Separatist community in which followers must fully adhere to all edicts. Adelaide is a wonderful protagonist as her conscience to learn the truth and her need to improve herself and her community battle with her desire to obey the sect's rules. Although readers will need to adjust to a horde of characters introduced rapidly at the beginning, this is a refreshing Americana whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

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